Dwarf Mottled Henricia – (larger)
Six-Rayed Sea Star – (smaller)
Friday Harbor Marine Laboratories, University of Washington
San Juan Island, Washington
Archival Pigment Print
Sea stars are a diverse group of predators and scavengers that play important roles in marine ecosystems worldwide. Known to eat everything from mussels and clams to sea anemones and even other sea stars, most have the remarkable ability to turn their stomachs inside out and extrude them from their mouths. The advantage? The stomach can squeeze into spaces as narrow as one-tenth of a millimeter across (for example, between the two shells of a clam) and begin digesting tissues while it’s outside the sea star’s body. The sea star then brings the meat, partially broken down, into its body for further digestion and absorption.